U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Pathways from Dependency and Neglect to Delinquency: Part Two

NCJ Number
Veronica F. Coleman-Davis; David R. Forde
Date Published
102 pages
This Midsouth study tested the hypothesis that there is a direct correlation between child maltreatment and delinquency, with "maltreatment" defined as "a child under the age of 18 who is adjudicated under the law as dependent and neglected or in need of protective services because of neglect, physical abuse, and/or sexual abuse."
The quantitative findings support the hypothesis that there is a direct positive relationship between child maltreatment and delinquent behavior. The qualitative findings supported the quantitative finding. Most children who were maltreated did not commit delinquency offenses; and maltreated child who did engage in delinquency committed offenses of low severity. Higher rates of offending were found for children who had been either physically or sexually abused, but the severity of their offenses was no greater than that of other maltreated delinquents. The presence of multiple types of maltreatment did not apparently pose a greater risk of offending than a single type of maltreatment. Recommendations for policymakers and program designers pertain to expanded parenting education and skills training, the empowerment of churches and neighborhoods in providing families social support and referral to local professional resources, the achievement of systemic change through cross-disciplinary collaboration, communitywide mentoring, and school-based programs for families. Data were obtained from official court records on 1,062 children alleged to be maltreated (dependency cohort) and 549 children alleged to be delinquent (delinquency cohort). For the dependency cohort, data were collected prospectively from the child's first maltreatment complaint. The delinquency cohort, although not a control group, provided a retrospective on a child's history in order to determine whether maltreatment was present as a risk factor. Focus groups were conducted with professionals who worked with children and families, incarcerated boys, incarcerated girls, and parents of incarcerated children. 44 tables, 3 figures, and appended definitions